My mother’s name was Vicki – she was passionate, smart and hard working. She would open her door to anyone in need, including animals. She spent her free time with her nose in a book, or outside in the garden. She made the best breakfast and loved to write kids’ stories and poems. She was one of six kids, three older sisters and two younger brothers. Her favorite color was blue, and her favorite flowers were lilies and morning-glories.
In 2014, my mother was diagnosed at age 51 with stage IV colorectal cancer. She had been complaining about side pain for months and had been mis-diagnosed multiple times. She went to urgent care at least once complaining of side pain, but was told she had a bladder infection. Later, she returned and was admitted to the hospital because of the severity of her pain. The doctors found a mass and knew it was cancer, but weren’t sure what kind of cancer until she saw an oncologist.
By the time we learned the severity of her condition, the cancer had already spread to her lungs and other organs.
Despite her diagnosis, she insisted on chemotherapy as she was a fighter and not willing to give up. We spent two years battling cancer together as a family. She maintained her independence leading up to the last few weeks of her fight, she lived in her own home while my brother and I cared for her. After spending Christmas 2015 in the hospital, our family (with the help of her doctor) decided she would be more comfortable in a place where she could get round the clock care. She passed away in a hospice home shortly after surrounded by her whole family.
After my mom passed away, my brother built this garden in the backyard. My mom loved to garden and we both wanted a way to honor her at home everyday. The stones are from an old pathway and my brother arranged them in a heart with a Magnolia tree in the center. After her memorial service, we hosted a Celebration of Life and planted the tree with our closest family and friends. We fill it with her favorite flowers every year and try to take pictures together each year to show the changes and growth.
Now, I’m passionate about sharing my mom’s story in hopes of saving more lives.
Our family was not educated about the prevalence of colon cancer until my mom was diagnosed. Your colon is an awkward topic that no one likes to talk about, but if I can speak up and get one more person to think twice about their health then I’ve helped my Mom save a life. Looking back, I wish my family knew colon cancer’s warning signs as it may have prolonged my Mom’s life. No one is immune to colon cancer, a lot of the “warning signs” are silent and if I keep talking about it, hopefully someone hears me and takes the initiative to get themselves checked.